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July 13, 2017

Tata Technologies stresses human element of future automation

Tata Technologies says it does not envisage future manufacturing processes representing a threat to employment as working practices radically change with the advent of digitalisation.

Tata Technologies says it does not envisage future manufacturing processes representing a threat to employment as working practices radically change with the advent of digitalisation.

The company – which yesterday (12 July) inaugurated its GBP20m (US$26m) Warwick European Innovation and Development Centre (EIDC ) in the British Midlands region – partners manufacturing for engineering and product life-cycle management consultancy among other areas and is at the heart of some of the new thinking surrounding automation.

“There is this trepidation everybody’s jobs will be automated,” EIDC COO, Nick Sale told just-auto on the sidelines of the Centre’s opening ceremony. “What it does is create value. As long as people adapt and are ready to acquire the right skills, there are more opportunities.

“There is a phrase: ‘It is not change people fear, it is uncertainty, is my job uncertain?’ The theme today is factory of the future and digital automation. There is a suggestion, perhaps there is a certain amount of expectation of the factory of the future, where you just produce a Range Rover or JCB without human interaction.

“We do not see that as likely in any shape or form. We see flexibility in the manufacturing environment and people who will be successful will be the people who manage the proliferation of data with connected mobility, connected tools [and] direct connectivity. The amount of data will be staggering.”

The inauguration of the EIDC has initially created 200 jobs for design engineers and programme managers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), but the building has capacity to house 600 staff.

EIDC will house Tata Technologies ‘ engineering support services, two labs, as well as an R&D centre to develop sectors including automotive, aerospace and industrial machinery. The building will serve as the company’s European headquarters and follows the opening of new delivery centres in Gothenburg and Paris earlier this year.

The company was at pains to point out despite some people’s reservations surrounding new ways of working, there was the chance to avoid some of the more repetitive tasks and focus instead on core competencies.

“There is an opportunity through technology of automating much of that repetitive data finding work and that frees up time [to look] at challenges and issues in a different way that drives economic value,” added Tata Technologies chief executive, Warren Harris, to just-auto.

“The world will evolve – it is not something to be feared. We have to plan [that] the change will be disruptive – planning in terms of skills but also in terms of mindset in companies and stakeholder groups.”

The Centre will also use its relationships with regional academic institutions to help fill new roles, building on its ties with Coventry University for example using the Ada Lovelace (mathematician) scheme, which supports women studying courses in its engineering and computing faculty.

Equally, Tata Technologies has a partnership with Warwick University and is exploring collaboration with Birmingham, ASTON and Loughborough higher education institutions.

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